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How To Break Into Film & TV

One of the most commonly asked questions I hear at events or on social media, is how to break into the industry. All too often I hear cries of “It’s impossible to break into the industry, unless you have the right connections”. Whilst it’s true that having connections certainly helps to open the right doors, especially early on in your career, nowadays the industry is more committed to attracting new talent than ever before. The important trick is knowing where to look for the opportunities. I’ve created a list of talent schemes below in the hope that it’ll be a helpful starting point for anyone looking to get that first break.

I’d love to hear if any feedback on whether this article is helpful. I’d be happy to look into keeping an up-to-date list of training and funding opportunities available.

Also, if you run a training scheme that I’ve accidentally missed off, let me know and I’d be happy to include it.


BAME Leadership

NFTS- backed scheme for future leaders from BAME backgrounds. A six month programme to encourage diverse representation in the film industry, bringing on the next generation of diverse talent working at Executive level in production, commissioning distribution, sales and exhibition. The programme is currently underway, but will be running again with applications open towards the end of the year.


BBC

The BBC offers a variety of entry schemes in television.

The Production Trainee Scheme, open to both graduates and non-graduates, it is well known for offering paid traineeships in TV and radio with extensive mentoring from senior BBC staff.

The Production Apprenticeship is aimed at those who don't have qualifications beyond Level 3/A Levels. It offers paid work on a range of TV and radio productions, whilst studying towards a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Creative & Digital Media.

The BBC also offers several work experience placements across its channels and productions.


Betty

Betty is a well-known factual entertainment company. Throughout the year they offer a variety of internships and trainee roles. They have a partnership with Creative Access which helps to provide internships for candidates from BAME backgrounds.


Channel 4

4Talent is the talent development arm of Channel 4. They are passionate supporters of new talent and offer apprenticeships in Business Admin and Creative & Digital Media. They also have a graduate programme where you gain a Creative Media Leadership MA.


Creative Access

Creative Access provides opportunities for paid internships in the creative industries for young people of graduate from under-represented BAME backgrounds. They help candidates to secure full time jobs and in the longer term help address the imbalance in the industry.


Creative Skillset

Creative Skillset works with the UK's screen based industries to develop skills and talent. Their website offers a great range of careers advice and opportunities for people looking to get into the industry.


Directors UK

Directors UK, the professional association for British screen directors, runs several training initiatives to address under-representation among directors. One is a paid training and mentoring opportunity for 2 emerging directors at Lime Pictures and Channel 4. Another is their High End Drama Directors Career Development Programme, with 6 directors selected to receive placements on high end dramas.


Filmonomics

Festival-turned "agency for change" Bird's Eye View focuses on promoting women in the film industry. They have a range of Creative Skillset-backed business courses targeting women and producers led by Oscar-winning producer Mia Bays.


Hiive

Hiive was launched following the demise of Ideastap, the UK's leading youth arts charity. Hiive is a platform dedicated to showcasing opportunities for young creatives in the UK. Members can sign up for free and take advantage of a fantastic array of opportunities, jobs and training courses advertised through the site. The creative briefs are offered by a range of illustrious partners including CNN, The Old Vic, Sky and the BFI.


The Hospital Club - Emerging Creatives Programme

The Hospital Club is a private members club based in the heart of Covent Gardens. Their membership is predominantly made up of artists, and as such the venue houses a television studio, screening room and a gallery. Their Emerging Creative Programme supports 5 young creatives from different disciplines (Film, Music, Art & Design, Theatre & Performance, and Fashion). The five chosen creatives receive a year’s free membership, industry mentoring and several thousand pounds to support an original project.

Applicants must have a minimum of 3 years experience in their discipline, be aged 21 to 35 and must not be in full time undergraduate study.


ITV

ITV have several talent schemes and intership programmes.

For voluntary placements and short-term paid opportunities for new talent aged 18+, check out ITV Insight.

School/college leavers aged 16+ can get paid to learn with the ITV Apprenticeship Programme.

For those interested in pursuing a career in journalism, they offer a nine month placement through ITV News Traineeship.


MAMA Youth

The MAMA Youth Project provides young people with training to help secure employment. They have a particular focus on those wanting to pursue a career in TV. They work with 18 to 25 year olds, some of whom are NEET (i.e. not in employment, training or education, who may be dealing with challenging circumstances on a daily basis). MYP does accept unemployed graduates as well.

MAMA Youth Project works intensively with at least 48 young people every year to provide them with 12 weeks of full-time employment training and 6 months of follow-up career support. They run two intensive programmes a year, each based on professional broadcast media skills. A unique aspect of their training is that each 12 week course puts the participants into a “real-time” work situation during which they have to work in a tight knit production team to create 6 half hour episodes of a magazine TV show called “What’s Up”, which is broadcast on Sky 1.


Media Trust

London360 forms part of a youth media network which gives Londoners from a diverse range of backgrounds the opportunity to learn new skills, develop their confidence and reach their potential.


Modern Tales

A professional development initiative created by Bushfire Digital and Script Cube for emerging BAME, female and disabled filmmakers. They host eight one-day courses focusing on themes such as Ideas Generation and Research Development.


NFTS and Channel 4 Bursary

Another NFTS-backed initiative. Channel 4 offer a bursary scheme for applicants to the NFTS Directing Fiction or Cinematography MA courses that are from diverse backgrounds. It is particularly aimed at people with disabilities, and people from BAME or socially disadvantaged backgrounds to help address under representation within the industry.


NFTS Directing Workshop

The NFTS Directing Workshop aims to increase the number of women, BAME and people with disabilities working in screen directing. It's a free course open to professionals who want to take their careers to the next level. Six filmmakers will be invited to take part in a four week course which includes making a short film.


The Network

The Edinburgh International Television Festival is one of the most prestigious media festivals in the world. They run two talent schemes: The Network and Ones to Watch.

The Network is a free intensive introduction to working in the TV industry. Each year 50 applicants are offered a 4 day course that runs alongside the festival. You don’t need any qualifications or prior experience in TV, but do need a genuine passion to work in the industry as competition is fierce.


Procam

Procam offer a unique Training Opportunity for new entrants to the broadcast industry. This is an entry level position for those interested in pursuing a career in the technical side of television, with an interest in video or audio production. Trainees will have the opportunity to work with the latest and most exciting broadcast technology, from the new Arri Amira cameras through to bespoke camera set ups and complex audio requirements.

Successful applicants will follow a career path which could lead into crew positions:

  • Begin working for Procam as a driver delivering equipment to clients
  • Training in the kit room, where you will begin to familiarise yourself with all equipment and start to go on jobs as runners/assistants/DITS
  • Move into the Procam crew pool, specialise in your chosen field and build up a list of credits
  • Leave Procam as an Industry Professional with a network of contacts and a range of invaluable skills

Full, clean driving licence required. Applicants can apply with a brief covering letter and CV to: louise.challinor@procam.tv


Pro Motion

Pro Motion are a leading broadcast equipment rental company. They offer a range of industry specific and educational short courses that give practical, hangs on training.


RDF

RDF Television runs a prestigious Intern Scheme for people wanting to get into the industry. Interns are offered a six month contract; which can lead to an additional two month contract as a junior researcher or co-ordinator. During the six month internship the interns’ main responsibility is to keep the office running smoothly. There are opportunities for the interns to spend time on productions as a runner. During the internship each intern will also undertake a camera course.

You can apply directly by emailing a covering letter and CV to: cv.runner@zodiakmedia.com


Sara Putt Associates

The Sara Putt Associates Trainee Scheme is a professional development programme for new entrants working in the Camera, Sound, Edit, Art, Production, VFX, Costume, Script Editing and AD departments. Trainees receive training in networking skills, CV writing, social media for work, finance for freelancers and negotiation skills. Previous trainees have also enjoyed masterclasses from editor Eddie Hamilton (X-Men: First Class); sound recordist Simon Clark (Wolf Hall); DoP Giulio Biccari (Luther) and 1st AD Matt Hanson (Sherlock).


Sky

Sky are committed to training the next generation of talent and have set up the Sky Academy, with the goal of training one million young people by 2020. They have a range of initiatives from primary school through to those starting their careers.


Widening The Lens

A free, three-month training and development programme from the Encounters Film Festival for new and emerging filmmakers from diverse backgrounds which includes workshops, masterclasses and one-to-one mentoring with industry professionals.


104 Films

Founded to change representations of disabled people behind and in front of the camera, 104 Films run over 40 training programmes supported by Creative Skillset, The BFI, Creative England and many other partners.

Guest Blog: How To Make Hollywood Quality Mo-Cap On An Indie Budget

This week’s blog is a first, in that it features a guest writer, Nikolay Savov. I’ve been friends with Nik since we met at the National Film and Television School, and was always blown away by how he was already pulling off ambitious projects. After seeing his graduation game Falling Sky involved Mo-Cap I thought it’d be great to invite him to talk about his experiences, and whether it’s possible for low budget projects to use the technology.

What Is Mo-Cap?

Motion capture, or Mo-Cap as it's more commonly known, is when you digitally record people or objects' movement. It's used to capture complex patterns, such as facial expressions or movement, to help create 3D digital models that are used in gaming and filmmaking. Using special cameras, the object or person is scanned several dozen times per second in order to reproduce realistic movements in real time. 

Tell Us A Little About Falling Sky

Falling Sky is an NFTS graduation game being made by fellow student Jonathan Nielssen, as part of his MA in Games Design and Development. Set across a sprawling landscape of American suburbia, the story follows Daniel and his younger brother as they embark on a quest to solve the mystery of their mother’s disappearance.

It is a beautifully looking narrative driven type of game that is also very cinematic. Jonathan and I share a deep passion for this type of projects and from the beginning, we set as our goal to make such a game. For that purpose, we used Unreal Engine, and we wanted to use Mo-Cap to help bring to life the characters. We had previously collaborated on a project called ReTreat, where we’d used facial-capture technology and saw the tremendous benefit it’d had on the character animation, so for the graduation project we wanted to push ourselves one step further.

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Mo-Cap is a cutting-edge technology that audiences are more familiar with seeing in Hollywood blockbusters and Triple-A games. Can you talk us through some of the challenges you faced in trying to use this for a student project?

The biggest challenge was whether we could afford it. Firstly, we had to find a motion capture facility that was the right size for our project. Even a small facility will cost at least £2000-£3,000 per day, which gives you an idea how much the big studios must spend on a hanger filled with cameras… Generally speaking for those new to the technology, the more cameras a motion capture studio has within the space, the more accurate and free you are to use different ranges of motion. I think it’s important to ask yourself how much space you genuinely need. Everyone wants to be able to go down the pub with their friends and brag about using the biggest studios to film in, but in reality, if it doesn’t serve the project then you’re just wasting precious time and money you could have better spent elsewhere.

As a student project, we felt that our best approach was to get in touch with several industry leaders on the basis they might be willing to help out. Our first port of call was Centroid3D, who already had a good relationship with the NFTS.

At the time, Centroid3D were booked solid, but they recommended that we ask one of their overflow facilities at Amersham and Wycombe College. Simon Clayden and Neil Bedecker, who manage the facilities there were exceptionally supportive and offered to help us with the project. Admittedly, through our own naivety, we assumed that shooting the material was the hard part done and dusted. Next came the real challenge, processing the data. The sheer scale of data required for Mo-Cap and how you process it is in my mind the real hurdle each project has to overcome, especially on a budget. Once you’ve shot the material, you then need a team to process the data to ensure that it can be successfully implemented within the game engine. This meant taking all the captured data, checking for any anomalies, before finally making it Maya compatible. After the models had been completed in Maya we then put them into the Unreal Engine.

Talk Us Through What A Shoot Day Looks Like

Nik hard at work on set... 

Nik hard at work on set... 

We had a two day shoot, which meant we had to work around our actor’s availability, child employment working hours and Amersham and Wycombe College’s opening times. This meant we had effectively 5 to 6 hours each day of pure shooting time. Each day we started prepping from 7:30am to 5:30pm. A big component of shooting in Mo-Cap is ensuring that the cameras are correct set up and calibrated. If anything had been out of sync, then Jonathan would have had to manually synchronise each body and facial performance, which would have been a nightmare. Fortunately, we had Simon and Neil to guide us through it. Without them, we’d never have been able to achieve something of this scale so as a team we’re incredibly grateful that they were so generous with their support.

How Did you Approach Finding Actors For Falling Sky?

We had to treat the Mo-Cap shoot like any other fiction shoot. You’re not just looking for a great voice actor, but one who can bring a physical presence to the work. As a film producer, I was fairly confident about this side of things and used my previous connections to find our cast. We were fortunate in that we were able to attract a stellar cast of actors including, Stephane Cornicard and Christy Meyer, who are well known in the gaming world for their roles in Dragon Age, Horizon Zero Dawn and Dark Souls.

What Happened Next?

After the shoot itself, we spent a week with Amersham and Wycombe College checking through the data we captured. Simon and Neil worked with students from the college to process all the data. They all put their heart and soul into it, and I think it really shows in the demo that we have.

Since then, we’ve been hard at work prepping the game for EGX. Each graduation game at the NFTS is extremely lucky in that the school organise for the games to be showcased at EGX, the major industry gaming event each year. Our goal was to have a highly polished demo of early gameplay to help wet press and potential investor’s appetite for the full game.

What Was Your Biggest Learning Curve?

Both Jonathan and myself were aware that we had huge gaps in our knowledge as we’d never tried this before, so we spent a good few of weeks visiting Amersham and Wycombe College to talk through the requirements with Neil and Simon. All of that time spent planning and rehearsing for any problems that may occur, paid off in the end.

I think one of the main things I’ve taken away from our shoot is a new perspective on how Mo-Cap works. For example, on a film set you normally shoot 3 pages a day. In Mo-Cap we were shooting approximately 20! It was such a stark difference that Jonathan and I were both caught off-guard.  Obviously, the question of how complicated the movements and actions are has to be taken into account to give you a realistic sense of what can be achieved, but there’s a world of difference between the two. After the first day's shoot, we actually had to spend that night frantically writing more material as we’d shot so much on the first day!

If you’re at EGX this week make sure to come stop by the NFTS Games stand in Rezzed West section where all 8 graduation games will be on show.